How to Choose a Business VoIP Provider

January 6, 2023 12 min read

Joe Manna

Joe Manna

VoIP Research & Preparation

Searching for a new business phone system can be a pain. As a small business owner, you have a million things to worry about, and choosing the right VoIP provider feels overwhelming. But finding the right business phone solution doesn’t have to give you a headache.

We’ll walk you through what VoIP phone service is and the key features you get with a business-grade solution. No tech jargon, no fluff. Here is some helpful advice for small business owners trying to pick the best VoIP service for their team.

Let’s tackle finding the right VoIP phone service provider step-by-step and select a system that checks all the boxes.

What Is VoIP?

VoIP stands for Voice over Internet Protocol. In simple terms, VoIP allows you to make and receive calls over the internet rather than over old-fashioned phone lines.

For business owners, think of VoIP as upgrading from analog phone technology to digital. Instead of having a phone jack on your wall, your phone connects to your internet router.

VoIP converts the audio of your phone calls into small digital data packets. It then transmits those data packets over your internet connection to the person (or business) you call. In between, a service provider establishes calls and furnishes the phone system’s features.

On the other end, their VoIP phone or service pieces the packets back together so your voice comes through clearly. This all happens in milliseconds, so to you, it sounds like a regular call even though it’s traveling over the web.

What is a VoIP provider?

VoIP service providers offer phone services for businesses and individuals. They provide the necessary infrastructure, software, and support to enable online voice communication. VoIP providers typically offer a range of plans and features, allowing customers to choose the options that best suit their needs.

If you need to set up a call center for a sales or support team, you’d typically ask your VoIP vendor to set one up—it’s all integrated.

Here’s a breakdown comparing hosted VoIP providers and on-premises alternatives:

How VoIP works

VoIP works by converting analog voice signals into digital data packets. These packets are transmitted over the internet using IP (Internet Protocol) networks.

The recipient’s VoIP system receives these packets and converts them back into analog signals, allowing the voice to be heard. This process allows for real-time voice communication over the Internet.

How VoIP Works

For more details, our guide has it all laid out for you:

Why people use VoIP

VoIP is the standard for business communication due to its lower costs and flexibility over traditional phone services.

Major perks include significant long-distance and international call savings. Providers also offer unlimited plans for predictable costs, even as the business grows. VoIP systems easily integrate with key applications like CRM software and email to boost productivity.

Advanced features also drive adoption by auto attendants, including call forwarding, voicemail transcription, analytics, and more. With dependable bandwidth, VoIP allows smooth communication across different locations.

VoIP providers offer significant cost savings of up to 60% compared to analog-based alternatives. For today’s mobile and virtual workforces, VoIP delivers a dependable communication channel.

Reasons Why Choosing the Right VoIP Provider Matters

Choosing the right business VoIP provider is paramount for businesses of all sizes. A reliable and efficient VoIP system can significantly impact your communication capabilities and contribute to the overall success of your business.

1. Business communications

Effective communication is the cornerstone of any successful business. Choosing the right VoIP provider ensures that your business communications are seamless, reliable, and of high quality.

A reliable VoIP system will prevent call drops, ensure crystal-clear voice quality, and provide stable connections. This translates into improved customer interactions, enhanced collaboration among team members, and a more professional image for your business.

2. Getting personalized help

When issues arise with your VoIP system, having access to personalized and timely support is crucial. The right VoIP provider will offer excellent customer support, guide you through any technical difficulties, and ensure minimal downtime for your business.

This personalized support can save you valuable time and resources, allowing you to focus on your core business activities.

3. Scalability and business growth

As your business grows, so do your communication needs. A scalable VoIP system provided by the right provider will enable you to easily add or remove phone lines, accommodate new employees, or expand to multiple locations.

This scalability ensures your communication infrastructure can grow alongside your business without costly hardware upgrades or complex installations.

4. Cost savings

One of the main advantages of VoIP is its cost-effectiveness compared to traditional phone systems. However, the right VoIP provider will offer competitive pricing and transparent billing structures that align with your budget. They may provide affordable monthly plans, unlimited calling options, or customizable packages tailored to your needs.

Choosing the right VoIP provider allows you to maximize cost savings while enjoying the benefits of advanced communication features.

5. Integration with existing systems

Many businesses rely on various software applications and tools to streamline their operations. The right VoIP provider will integrate these existing systems, such as customer relationship management (CRM) software, email clients, and productivity tools. This integration enhances productivity, streamlines workflows, and provides a more efficient and unified communication experience.

By selecting a reliable provider, you can ensure high-quality communication, receive personalized support when needed, accommodate business growth, enjoy cost savings, and integrate with existing systems.

As you research small business phone systems, you’ll need to decide whether to use an on-premises or a cloud-hosted VoIP service. We explain these below.

On-Premises vs. Cloud-Hosted VoIP

Both on-premises and cloud-hosted VoIP solutions have advantages and disadvantages, and understanding their differences will help you make an informed choice.

Cloud-based VoIP

Cloud-based VoIP systems are hosted by independent providers, minimizing your own IT infrastructure needs. This makes cloud-based communication attractive for many organizations.

Primarily, the advantage of cloud-based VoIP is that you have the flexibility to add or remove phone lines and features anytime based on your needs. Providers handle maintenance, updates, and support so you avoid significant hardware costs. It also offers reliability through redundant systems, minimizing disruptions.

You are also free to choose a different VoIP provider if you want to shop around. Can’t do that so easily with a proprietary setup installed by the local phone provider.

On-premises PBX

An on-premises PBX, short for Private Branch Exchange, is hosted within a company’s physical offices. This offers full control and customization for specialized needs. However, it requires significant upfront investment in hardware, software, and ongoing IT management.

Benefits include enhanced security since data stays within your network. This works well for businesses handling sensitive information. Deep integration with other on-site apps is also possible.

The downsides are limited scalability and agility. Adding more lines means purchasing additional hardware. For dynamic teams, this can hinder growth or communication improvements.

Even with a PBX hosted on AWS, you are still responsible for security, provisioning, and VoIP technology updates such as E911, STIR/SHAKEN, and 10DLC.

… But if you don’t want to replace your IP PBX, pair it with an SIP trunking service, and you’ll be good to go.

Factors to Consider in a VoIP Phone Provider

When choosing a VoIP provider, there are several important factors to consider. These factors will help you evaluate different providers and determine which best meets your business needs.

Reliability and uptime

Reliability is crucial for any communication system. Look for a VoIP provider with a strong track record of uptime and minimal service disruptions. Consider the provider’s infrastructure, redundancy measures, and disaster recovery capabilities.

Not every VoIP vendor has the most reliable cloud phone system. Instead, we suggest confirming how many data centers (also known as POPs) they have and where they are located. The closer you are, the better the call quality and reliability.

Advanced calling features

Evaluate the calling features offered by each VoIP provider. Consider the specific features essential for your business, such as call forwarding, call waiting, voicemail, auto attendants, call recording, and conference calling. Ensure the provider offers the features you need to manage your business communications effectively.

Ease of setup

Consider how easy it is to set up and configure the VoIP system. Look for providers that offer user-friendly interfaces and intuitive setup processes. A straightforward setup will save you time and minimize disruptions to your business operations during the transition to VoIP.

For instance, when setting up desk phones from Nextiva in your office, you just need to plug them in. No complicated IP phone firmware hassles. Just unbox it, plug it in, and begin using your business VoIP service.

Flexibility and customization

Assess the flexibility and customization options offered by each VoIP provider. Look for providers that allow you to tailor the system to your specific business needs. This may include customizable call flows, advanced phone line routing options, and integration with other business applications.

Customer support

Consider the level of customer support provided by each VoIP provider. Look for providers that offer 24/7 support and multiple communication channels, such as phone, email, or live chat. Responsive and knowledgeable support can help resolve issues quickly and minimize downtime for your business.


Evaluate the pricing structure of each VoIP provider. Consider whether they offer affordable plans that align with your budget. Look for transparent providers about their pricing, including any additional fees or charges. Compare the pricing plans of different providers to ensure you are getting the best value for your investment.

By considering these factors, you can assess the suitability of different VoIP providers for your business. Prioritize your specific needs and preferences when evaluating these factors, as each company has unique requirements. Considering these factors thoroughly will help you land the right VoIP provider with the best reliability, features, ease of use, customization options, support, and pricing for your business.

5 Steps to Do Before Buying a VoIP Phone Provider

Before purchasing VoIP phone service, we recommend a few initial steps to choose the best solution. These steps will ensure that you clearly understand your business needs and help you make an informed decision.

1. List your business needs

Start by identifying your specific business needs and requirements. Consider factors such as the number of employees using the system, the expected call volume, the need for advanced features, and any specific integration requirements with existing systems or software. This will help you narrow down the providers to meet your particular needs.

2. Establish a budget

Determine your budget for the VoIP phone system, considering the upfront costs and ongoing expenses. Consider hardware costs, installation fees, monthly service charges, and any additional features or support you may require. A clear budget will help you evaluate providers based on their pricing plans and ensure you can afford the system in the long run.

3. Test your network

Before committing to a VoIP phone provider, it is crucial to test your network infrastructure. VoIP relies on a stable and reliable internet connection, so assess your VoIP call capacity and quality of service. Confirm that you have the bandwidth, low latency, and zero packet loss. This will ensure you get the best possible performance out of your VoIP system.

4. Get accurate price quotes

Contact different VoIP phone providers and request accurate price quotes based on your business needs. Ensure that the quotes include all the hardware, software, and services required for the system. Compare the pricing plans, contract terms, and additional fees or charges to determine which provider offers the best value for your budget.

5. Read customer reviews.

Research customer reviews or case studies about the VoIP phone providers you are considering. Customer feedback can provide valuable insights into the provider’s reliability, customer support, and overall satisfaction. Look for providers with positive reviews and a strong reputation in the industry.

By following these steps, you can effectively gather the necessary information and evaluate different VoIP phone providers. Taking the time to assess your business needs, establish a budget, test your network, obtain accurate price quotes, and read customer reviews will help you decide and select the right VoIP phone provider for your business.

Popular Phone Service Features

Virtual Phone Systems work on IP phones, computers, and smartphones.
A cloud-based phone system works across many different devices.

VoIP phone providers offer a variety of features to enhance your business communications.

These features can improve productivity, streamline workflows, and provide a seamless communication experience. Let’s explore some of the popular phone service features VoIP providers offer.

Unlimited calling nationwide

Many VoIP providers offer unlimited nationwide calling plans. This allows your small business to make endless calls without incurring extra fees from your VoIP service provider. Plus, you can get phone numbers in any area code you want for an easy way for customers to reach your team.

Auto attendants

Customize automated greetings and menus to route customer calls to the correct department. Auto attendants streamline communication and enhance customer service.

Auto Attendant Call Flows

Unified communications

Unified communications integrate your systems like phone, video, team messaging, and email into one business VoIP solution. Since it’s a cloud-based phone system, your team is always available, whether they work from home or in the office. With unified communications functionality built-in, you can stop paying extra for Zoom or Microsoft Teams licenses.

Call analytics

Monitor call volume, duration, and inbound call patterns with call analytics. Use these VoIP phone system insights to improve your communication strategy. Plus, you can create team-specific dashboards to track outbound calls, incoming calls, and even your customer satisfaction ratings in real-time.

Call Recording

One of the best parts of a hosted VoIP provider is the ability to record phone calls and play them back anytime. Save important customer calls for future reference or compliance with business call recording. Useful for law firms, auto shops, and finance industries, too.

Business phone call recording feature

Mobile and desktop apps

Some top business VoIP vendors offer mobile and desktop apps to make or receive calls from any device. Maintain flexibility and connectivity on the go.

Smart call forwarding

Forward calls based on predefined rules; never miss essential customer calls. Enhance communication flow with intelligent call forwarding.

Business text messaging

Enable your team to send and receive SMS text messages using their existing VoIP number. Business texting is fully integrated without any extra text messaging apps.

Call parking

Put a call on hold and pick it up on any phone within your VoIP business phone system. Great for transfers between departments.

Voicemail transcription

Save time with voicemail transcription, which converts messages to text. Quickly scan and prioritize customer voicemails.

CRM and email integration

Streamline customer interactions by integrating your VoIP phone service with existing CRM and email platforms.

Streamline customer interactions by integrating your VoIP phone service with existing CRM and email platforms

These popular phone service features offered by VoIP providers can significantly enhance your business communications and improve efficiency. Consider the most relevant features to your business and prioritize them when selecting a VoIP provider. Each feature creates a seamless and practical communication experience for your business.

Bottom Line When Choosing a VoIP Provider

When researching a VoIP provider, remember that the decision involves more than price, features, or VoIP technology. To make the best choice for your business, consider the following factors.

The Best Pick?

We might be biased, but the critics don’t lie. Nextiva tops numerous VoIP and business communication tool listings for a simple reason.

Nextiva delivers Amazing Service to over 150,000 businesses, and customers rave about it. It comes in thousands of passionate customer reviews across G2, Gartner, and GetVoIP.

Customer reviews across G2, Gartner, and GetVoIP

The company’s business VoIP packages offer an unbeatable range of features, excellent reliability, and 24/7 customer support.

When choosing a VoIP provider, look beyond just the price. Consider the overall value, prioritize the features that align with your business needs, and evaluate the level of customer support provided.

By keeping these factors in mind, Nextiva is sure to be the last VoIP provider your business will ever need.

Joe Manna


Joe Manna

Joe Manna was a senior content marketing manager at Nextiva. He blends his marketing acumen and deep technical background to improve people's lives with technology. His expertise helps companies large and small serve more customers. He enjoys a rich iced latte and a non-fiction business book when he's not pressing words.

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